Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Vosges Exotic Chocolate Bars

The very delicious Gianduja bar by Vosges.

A few weeks ago, I picked up Mo's Bacon Bar by Vosges and posted a review. A few days later, I got an email from Paige, who works for the chocolatier, asking if I'd like some samples.

Um, yes please!

Shortly thereafter, a lovely package arrived (repleate with a handwritten note from Paige) filled with an assortment of Vosges' chocolate bars. The box offered samples of the Barcelona, Creole, Gianduja, Naga, Oaxaca, Red Fire, and Woolloomooloo bars.

Both Paige and Tara of But It's a Dry Heat! recommended the Barcelona Bar to me after I'd said I liked the flavor of Mo's Bacon Bar, not the chewy bits of bacon. The Barcelona is a milk chocolate bar studded with sea salt and roasted almonds. It's very tasty, but I was hoping for more of a smoked almond flavor so I was a little let down. (Still, if you like almonds plus sweet and salty notes, this is a great chocolate bar).

The Creole is a dark chocolate bar (70-percent cacao) featuring cacao nibs and "New Orleans style chicory coffee." The deep flavor of the chocolate complements the pungent scent of the chicory; it's not a combination I expected to like, but the components work very well together. It's not a sweet confection but one with a bitter edge; not overly so, but it is definitely there. The chocolate has a sharp snap to it as well.

I knew I'd love the Gianduja bar -- hazelnuts and chocolate? How can it not be loved? The texture of this bar is much softer than the others. I'm guessing this is because the chocolate is blended with hazelnut paste but I can't seem to find a confirmation of this on the Vosges' website. For a bit of added crunch, small almond pieces are thrown in. I can't say I'd be able to tell they were almonds if not for the packaging, but I liked it all the same. Out of all the bars, this was my favorite.

The Naga bar, which I'd had before, features sweet curry and coconut paired with milk chocolate. It's a delicate flavor -- the curry and coconut aren't overpowering, but provide an interesting depth the the chocolate.
I was a little worried to try the Oaxaca and Red Fire bars as both include hot pepper. You can feel the heat in the Oaxaca bar (from its guajillo and pasilla chillies) almost before the chocolate reaches your mouth. And yet, it's not overly spicy but it does tingle the tongue and throat. Like the Creole, it's got a bitter edge.

The Red Fire matches dark chocolate (55-percent cacao) with cinnamon and ancho and chipotle chilies. This bar was not as spicy as the Oaxaca; in fact, while I could taste the chocolate and cinnamon, I didn't even detect the chilies' heat until I swallowed -- then, I felt a warm sensation at the back of my throat. While I like the bar, I'd love to see another one pairing milk chocolate solely with cinnamon -- I'm crazy about that combination (probably born from a childhood love of bear shaped cinnamon butter cookies dipped in chocolate) yet I can't find it in chocolate very often.

Last but not least, the Woolloomooloo bar mixes milk chocolate with crushed and salted macadamia nuts, coconut and hemp seeds. I'm not a big fan of macadamias but I couldn't really detect them beyond their crunch -- at least, I don't think I could. The bar has a raw nut flavor, but I'm not sure if that's from the macadamias or the hemp seeds (I couldn't really single them out, either). The coconut is a presence, too, though it doesn't overwhelm things.
These chocolates are pricey --$7 for a full size or $2.50 for a mini bar -- but they're delicious. The full size would be a great holiday gift for friends or co-workers, and the minis would be at home in anyone's stocking.


Peabody said...

Sometimes they go a little too exotic for me. I just like chocolate.

Megan said...

I love the red fire one. I'm trying to make a red fire truffle one for Christmas gifts along with 4 other flavors. Luck you!